Inside the Millennial Mind: A Gen Y Recruiter Speaks Out

There have been many articles written about my generation – the Millennials or Generation Y – and the disconnect we have with employers. We’ve been called lazy, entitled, and even job hoppers looking for the next best opportunity. As a Millennial myself, I view this as a rite of passage that each new generation experiences when they enter the workplace. There’s tension that exists between the newcomers and the veterans, and some negative stereotypes get all the attention. Like each generation, Millennials have unique experiences and backgrounds that shape who we are, how we behave, and our expectations. Understanding these nuances will help employers see that many of us are driven and want to make a bright future for ourselves and our organizations. You just need to take the time understand how we engage and interact.

According to a ManpowerGroup study, 39 percent of employers say they are having problems finding staff with the right skills, and 32 percent say there are no available candidates. In addition, the Department of Labor states that 16.3 percent of Millennials are unemployed. So, we have employers who can’t find people and Millennials who can’t find jobs. I think each one is the answer to the other’s problem and as a Millennial involved in talent acquisition and bringing top tier talent to my organization, I see the issue from both perspectives.

Given my role as both a Millennial and a talent acquisition professional recruiting my Gen Y peers, I can offer the following advice about what works for me during the recruiting process:

Article Continues Below
  • Keep it short: When engaging a Millennial, I try to provide them with as much information as is available, in the most clear and concise format. I provide a very high level overview of the position, highlighting the most important topics. Millennials do not want to read through a long job description for a position that may not ultimately be of interest. We want to know the main duties and responsibilities and then decide if we want to pursue further.
  • Don’t call us, we’ll call you: When it comes to communication, Millennials generally do not want to be contacted by phone. We all have cell phones, mostly smart phones, but the last thing we want to do is use them for talking. We are a virtual generation and find it easier and more convenient to communicate via email. In fact, in an informal survey of 17 of my Gen Y colleagues, 88 percent said they would prefer to be contacted by email. An email gives the recipient time to consider the opportunity and develop a thoughtful response, versus having to react immediately in a phone conversation.
  • Present the big picture: Millennials want to know more about a prospective employer than just their potential role. You must let them know where the position could possibly take them, and how others have advanced. Provide an idea of personal responsibilities, highlighting the tasks that will give them a sense of accomplishment. In my informal survey, 53 percent of my colleagues said they desire structure and room for growth, with the rest desiring a work life balance. These are things that my generation holds important; it’s not always all about money.
  • Recruiters as confidants: When working with Millennials, I find we can easily relate, and candidates tend to act as their true selves around me. If they have a question or are not sure about the entire interview process, they are not afraid to reach out. I have the advantage of bonding with Gen Y candidates as a peer, but all recruiters can experience this edge if they engage with Millennials in the right way. For example, I personally greet candidates that I bring in for interviews, keeping things relaxing yet professional. Candidates are nervous enough as it is, so this allows me to help them relax and provides me with an understanding of who they are when they open up. Millennials want to build a relationship with me in order to gain an accurate understanding of the organization and for consistent and constant feedback about their performance and the process.

Once employers, and talent acquisition professionals especially, have a better understanding of the Millennial candidate, they will be able to unleash the human potential of Gen Y. From there, employers will be pleasantly surprised to find an eager group of talented professionals that are ready and willing to help the organization achieve its goals.

image via

Brent Grinsteiner is a talent acquisition professional for ManpowerGroup Solutions Recruitment Process Outsourcing. His areas of expertise include sourcing/recruiting, as well as exploring the latest technologies and solutions to help his fellow team members succeed. Brent’s experience includes non-human resource focused work, which allows him to approach talent acquisition with a unique, out-of-the-box mindset.  He has gained a broad range of experience through supporting various clients, as well as recruiting for ManpowerGroup.

Connect with him on LinkedIn


10 Comments on “Inside the Millennial Mind: A Gen Y Recruiter Speaks Out

  1. I agree with this article, and I’m glad you’re getting back with the “veterans” who think we are lazy and entitled… I’m am willing and ready to work but am having a dificult time finding work/internship. The Detroit New/Free Press ran an article saying how there aren’t enough qualified IT students graduating from college. I say the companies aren’t looking. Anyhow, how are we suppose to connect with Brent on LinkedIn when I don’t have his e-mail?

    1. Sierra – Thank you for the comment! All you have to do is click the hyperlink in my Bio and that will direct you to my page.

  2. Millennials, if we can’t call you, how can we gauge your level of sincerity, intelligence, commitment and wit? In an interview, you will not have the opportunity to “carefully craft a response.” Hiring managers need to see how quick you are on your feet before investing time considering you for a position based off an email and resume. And for that matter, when you are in a business meeting with company executives or board members and they ask you a question, would you expect them to wait for you to “carefully craft a response?” The article is well written with good intent, but I think you are way off base asking hiring managers not to call you, but rather having them wait for your crafted, Google researched response….you will be left in the dust. My advice: don’t wait for us to call; show us you will fight to get the job.

    1. i agree. i think it was a great article and had lots of thoughtful ideas…but as a recruiter with 10 years of experience i would find it hard to take seriously a candidate who can’t speak to me on the phone. and my clients would not respect my abilities if i was only providing them candidates i’ve been engaged with online.

  3. Hey @ere-14806d879010d441160bb1cb22c1f81c:disqus .. I’m a millennial and I do not mind talking on the phone. Don’t generalize! When I have gone to recruiters like yourself Brent, I was placed in a menial labor job, and fired without notice, a few times, for a few different employers and a few different temp agencies. I have a Bachelors in environmental science and you brilliant recruiters found me a job at Walmart… Thank you for the wonderful job…… I am a generation Y, but I am molding myself to be a mature adult. If you don’t like talking on the phone and making important decisions, then you need to grow up. also, these “talent acquisition” companies need to be upfront with their clients, and basically say that your disposable and can be fired at any moment. Anyways, if you need a mature person to fill a position in the sciences, please contact me at davek3890 at


  4. Its interesting to me that Millenials don’t understand or reject the labels being placed on them like entitled and jobhoppers. At the same age, past generations attitude were different and so was the world. Their complaints were never heard or noticed compared to the Millenials. They would just put their head down to work and ask “how can I fit in … be a part of this … improve my position. Its the “…what you can do for your country” generation. But its no surprise that the boomers, who did begin to question authority and past practices, have raised a generation that challenges convention even more than they did. The difference is that had to wait their turn and Millenials don’t have any patience for that and more importantly the thing that might define them most is that they don’t think they should wait their turn. I can hear the “damn right why should I wait” shouts. This is why you are viewed as entitled.

    Millenials seem too quick to pull the plug if it isn’t working out for them. They want things to work they way they think it should or they will rewrite it or find someplace else that fits them. It is no wonder their being viewed as job hopping. Its a new world and millenials don’t seem interested in learning how to fit in to the world and how work is done, they want to make it fit them and that evokes a response from others of “what makes you so special that we should listen to what you want … you just got here?”.

    As I said earlier, it this this impatience that is their greatest strength. It will push our country forward .. it already has. It just makes listening to them go on about how we should treat them, as if they have garnered any place to ask for it, too hard to swallow for some.

    You sight a mismatch of 16.3% unemployed and employers not having enough qualified applicants. You make suggestions about how they should talk to your generation when maybe you should be asking how can we as a group be better. Its a blank spot in your vision that for you and your generation is demonstrated repeatedly in articles like this. That just because you put in the work you should find success(entitled).

    Soon it won’t matter. Due to their size, in the next 10 years Millenials will firmly be in the drivers seat. Until then the Boomers and Gen X will try to bring them along and share their experience and knowledge, even though they will probably just turnaround and Wiki it.

  5. Great article, Brent.
    You and I have done the same job, however I’m in the Gen X category. It seems like every generation thinks the one following it is lazy or cares less somehow. I remember being in my teens and twenties and being so upset at the characterization of my generation. I think your advice is mostly dead on and I can see where I can apply it when I am talking with potential candidates.
    I’m not sure I agree on the email vs. telephone point, though. It is absolutely a good idea to tailor your communication style to your audience. However, that goes both ways. While Gen Yers don’t like to talk on the phone, everyone else in the workplance does. The people for whom you will be working have been working for decades in many cases and it’s important to be mindful of their Generation as well. I feel that if you can communicate effectively with anyone, you’re going to be in a much better position than the person who is sitting around waiting to be emailed because they don’t like phones.
    I could be way off base, though. What if you exchange emails with someone who seems great, but when you *do* talk to them, they’re poor communicators? Do you find that being skilled at email also translates to being skilled at verbal communcation?

    1. Well said, Jessica. Also, Gen Y, don’t short yourselves the opportunity to interview the interviewers!! I think all of us Gen Xers can agree on that.

  6. It’s an interesting debate, adn one that I don’t really think has a complete right or complete wrong answer. Overall, Brent is right. It seems a little one sided though, and I think there has to be a middle ground. For those of us who have been in recruitment for many years now, we have seen many changes. I now have a computer, a mouse and the internet as opposed to a filing cabinet, a phone book and a pen & paper. We used to spend time with candidates and build long-term relationships with clients and candidates.
    These days, the world has changed; for one thing, I have far less hair now. With technical change being exponential, the changes that we have seen in the last 20 years have been quicker than in any other period of 20 years (but will be slower than any other period of 20 years yet to come).
    Part of me looks back to the ‘old days’ of really getting to know our candidates and clients, taking time to consult and advise and not being bombarded with irrelevant applications. I also remember the time that it took to find candidates with specific skills, to get adverts out and being restricted to much smaller geographical locations. My point here is that there are pros and cons to the way things used to be, just as there are to the way the industry operates now.
    Surely we need to be looking at meeting in the middle. Millenials as may want to do everything via e-mail and other virtual forms of communication, but please remember that the words you send are only a fraction of communication. We still want to hear the intonation in your voice, and, ideally meet you face to face.
    To me, if you can’t make the effort to take a walk with your mobile phone to have a conversation with me about a job, then you can’t really want the job. To the millenials that I work with, i’m sure they think, ‘it’s fine, he’ll e-mail me or leave me a message’. I will still call though and this might be because you’re the best candidate that i’ve seen and that the position is urgent and interviews are happening tomorrow, and my voicemail will try to sound excited because I really want you to call me back.
    We need to aim to meet in the middle. As a recruiter, i’m not putting a candidate in front of a client until i have, at least spoken on the phone with that candidate and I or one of my colleagues has met them. The initial conversations though can happen via e-mail. These conversations must take account of the form of communication. We must ensure that what we write is clear and succinct. Ambiguity can be misread into most sentences. How do I know that anyone reading this is fully understanding me? Perhaps it feels as though i’m criticising? Hopefully it feels like I am mediating and encouraging you to open up your approach, while assuring you that I will open mine. When anyone answers their phone to me, I ask if it’s convenient for them to talk. If they say yes, i’ll continue and let them know they should start talking about anything else if someone walks in. If they say no, i’ll arrange to call back, or they can call me at a convenient time and then ask some trivial questions so that the candidate can brush off the call as a friend calling to make social plans.
    If we’re going to communicate via e-mail, social media etc, let’s make it clear what we ultimately want and le the candidates know that they should pick up the phone to speak to us about any questions or just for clarification, they shouldn’t dismiss anything based on an assumption.
    There’s not really a right or wrong way, we all have to develop to work together with the methods and technology that we have around us. Thank you Brent for bringing this to light.

  7. A well written and interesting article. Everyone in recruiting has taken a stab at reconciling the gulf in understanding between Gen Y and ‘the rest of us’. We always sound patronizing and annoyed. They always sound entitled and naive. What Gen Y has to realize, and soon, is that the future belongs to them and everything in the world will be shaped in their image – flexibility, immediacy and devoid of the confrontation and pressure points they so hate. But that’s the future, I’m afraid – not the present. In the present you have to play things the way the current world order wants them played. You must have the wisdom to know that only playing by the rules of the people who are running the game now will get you off the job market and into an opportunity. What I disagree with most in Brent’s article – and what I expect will receive the most immediate disagreement – is the ‘don’t call us’ line. I know from my own experiences with the hugely talented and capable Gen Ys I work with, that above all things they fear confrontation – even in it’s mildest sense – i.e. tough questions on the phone right now. I understand that you prefer an e-mail. But you can’t have one. You’re getting a phone call. If you want a job, you’ll answer it. The great thing about people thinking you’re soft, entitled, naive and spineless is that you don’t have to do very much at all to create the opposite impression. Get out of your comfort zone. Accept that it is you, like every generation before you, who must bridge the chasm to the existing status quo and do it their way. You’ll be unemployed every day until you realize this.

    I’d also recommend you call Brent. Sounds like he’d be a good starting point.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *